ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Legality of Oral Promises by NBA GMs to Potential NBA Draft Picks

Bb2There's an interesting post on the Sports Law Blog about the apparently standard practice of a team's General Manager promising a draft-eligible player that if he is still on the board when the team selects, the team will draft him.  Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog raised these questions about the practice:

What kind of agreement is in place here? Is it considered an oral contract? What are the ramifications of backing out? I believe the Celtics asked Orien Greene if they could back out of their promise last year when they saw that Amir Johnson was still on the board.

Sports Law Blogger Michael McCann adds the following:

And let's try this hypo: Celtics GM Danny Ainge promises point guard Marcus Williams that if he is still on the board at #7 (when the Celtics pick), Ainge will take him. But on draft night, something strange happens: power forward LaMarcus Aldridge--who, as I note above, is projected by most draft experts to be a top three pick--is still on the board at #7. And Ainge decides to take Aldridge instead.

Can Marcus Williams successfully sue Danny Ainge and the Celtics for breach of contract or detrimental reliance? The answer is probably "no" but not without some decent arguments by Williams.

To check out more of the discussion, go here.

[Carol Chomsky]

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